An Exploration of Educational Underachievement from the Perspectives of Teachers and White British Working-Class Pupils in an Urban Pupil Referral Unit

Prof Doc Thesis


Sode, T. 2021. An Exploration of Educational Underachievement from the Perspectives of Teachers and White British Working-Class Pupils in an Urban Pupil Referral Unit. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Education and Communities https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8995q
AuthorsSode, T.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Abstract

This small-scale qualitative study aims to explore the factors that contribute to the educational underachievement of white British working-class boys and girls. This exploration is informed by the perspectives of ten white British working-class pupils and five teachers based in an urban Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in England. The PRU is based in a Local Authority where the educational performance of white British working-class (WBWC) pupils is of significant concern. All the pupils that participate in this study are in key stage 4 (ages 14 – 16), recorded on the school information management system as white British and in receipt of free school meals. Based on their levels of attendance and attainment all pupil-participants are categorised as unlikely to achieve five or more A*-C grades (including English and mathematics) at GCSE level or to progress on to any form of post-compulsory education.
This study is informed by Bourdieu’s (1984) theories of field, habitus and cultural capital, which consider educational underachievement in working-class pupils as an outcome of class inequalities within the education system. Within this study, Bourdieu’s (1984) concepts prove useful in teasing out and explaining the factors that contribute to the educational underachievement of many WBWC pupils. However, the findings (based on semi-structured one-to-one interviews with a group of WBWC pupils and their teachers) from this study challenge the notion of conflict free mediation when the institutional habitus of a school aligns with the habitus of white British working-class pupils. Following a discussion of the principal findings, this study suggests the reasons for the educational underachievement of many WBWC pupils cannot be attributed to a single factor. Rather, it concludes that the educational underachievement of many WBWC pupils is influenced by a complex amalgamation of a hidden curriculum, misrecognised aspirations, parental influences and negative perceptions of schooling and prospects which are all induced and shaped by social stratification.

Year2021
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8995q
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Publication dates
Online22 Jul 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted07 May 2021
Deposited22 Jul 2021
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